February 7, 2009 / 4:35 PM / 9 years ago

German Bosnia film takes critical view of tribunal

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German-made drama about the inconclusive trial of a fictional Serb war criminal may help keep the judicial spotlight on the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, its director Hans-Christian Schmid said on Saturday.

Actress Kerry Fox and Director Hans-Christian Schmid attend a news conference to promote the movie 'Storm' at the 59th Berlinale film festival in Berlin, February 7, 2009. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele

“Storm,” an English-language thriller, features New Zealand’s Kerry Fox as a determined prosecutor at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) struggling against time pressure and Serb nationalists.

“There has been enormous time pressure on the judges, prosecutors and defense since the U.N. decided to conclude the tribunals by 2010,” Schmid told a news conference after the film’s well-received world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

“I would hope that, if nothing else, this film might make a contribution so that they don’t have to conclude by 2009 or 2010. In all the interviews we did for it, that was what we kept hearing: no one wants to be under this deadline pressure.”

Created in 1993, the ICTY has said it expects to wrap up its cases by the end of 2010 and appeals a year later. The chief prosecutor has said that “work could easily go into 2012.”

The drama follows a similar theme to “Grbavica” which won the festival’s Golden Bear award for best film in 2006. It is set against a tense backdrop in Bosnia with a suspected Serb war criminal on trial after three years in detention.

“Grbavica” put the spotlight on a hushed-up topic of mass rapes in Bosnia during the siege of Sarajevo, with the story of a Muslim woman who tries to hide the past.

In “Storm,” the prosecutor’s investigation of rape and murder charges is hindered by a powerful network of nationalist Serbs and then foiled by her own poorly prepared case. But just before it collapses, a witness to the rapes comes forward.

The trial is short-circuited by a behind-the-scenes deal involving the judge, the Serb’s defense counsel and the prosecutor’s pragmatic boss.

“I think it’s definitely worth hauling up the horrors for what they are and exposing them to the world,” Fox told a news conference. She won a Silver Bear for best actress at the festival in 2001 for “Intimacy.”

Schmid said his film was fiction but was based on elements of cases he studied. He said filming was taking place in The Hague in July when Radovan Karadzic, wanted for war crimes and genocide, was arrested in Belgrade where he had assumed a new identity.

Karadzic faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide arising from the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica. The tribunal’s highest-profile suspect, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, died in 2006 during his trial for war crimes.

editing by Andrew Dobbie

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